You’re the Worst
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After meeting at a wedding, two cynics — Jimmy, a brash self-centered writer, and Gretchen, a self-destructive PR exec — end up in a bumpy relationship in this LA-set comedy from FXX, the more “experimental” sister network to FX.
British actor Chris Geere, who stars as Jimmy, has been on This is Us and Modern Family. Aya Cash, who stars as Gretchen, is in The Boys. Desmin Borges, who plays Jimmy’s best friend Edgar, was most recently in Shotgun Wedding and The Time Traveler’s Wife.
The rom-com is a delicate genre, especially when adapted for TV. While a film has a finite time to tell a love story, TV shows can just keep going, and oftentimes writers rely on the “will they/won’t they” trope to keep audiences hooked. You’re the Worst cleverly upends the formula by having the two leads hook up immediately, then focuses the rest of the series on the ups and downs of their relationship.
But You’re the Worst strikes a deeper cord, as it’s also a series about the complexities of mental health and how it impacts relationships, and it’s a theme that’s threaded through the comedy. It begins in the second season, when we learn that Gretchen suffers from depression, but it’s not what the people in her life expect it to be.
I myself have clinical depression, also known as major depressive disorder, and I felt especially seen by You’re the Worst. Gretchen’s depression is first hinted at when she leaves her house to secretly cry in her car, something I have done on many occasions. Like Gretchen, I didn’t understand why I was so sad – there wasn’t always a reason I could pinpoint. Jimmy does his best to be supportive, taking her to an over-the-top haunted house with her friends. When he sees her laughing, he assumes she’s fine – the depression has been cured! But as Gretchen reminds him, it doesn’t work like that. For those of us with clinical depression, we may have happy moments, but that doesn’t mean the depression won’t rear its ugly head again. And, unfortunately, we can’t just choose to be happy.
Through Jimmy, we also see how Gretchen’s depression impacts the relationship. He does his best to try and help her, but when she becomes so numb she can no longer feel, Jimmy doesn’t know what to do — stay or leave.
There’s a powerful moment when he seems to understand it, and he simply holds her. She becomes overwhelmed. This small gesture means the world. Jimmy realizes he shouldn’t try to fix Gretchen; he just needs to love her and be there for her. It’s a poignant message to send to those who have loved ones with depression: don’t try to fix them. Don’t tell them to just snap out of it. Just love and support them the best you can.
In the third season, we see Gretchen start therapy, and she makes the same mistake that I made: assuming that her depression is something that can be beaten. And just as I had to learn, Gretchen figures out that she has a life-long illness, and she has to learn how to manage it. Throughout the rest of the series, we see how she grapples with her mental health and how it feeds on her insecurities. Even when her life is seemingly perfect, Gretchen isn’t suddenly cured.
Mental health is still stigmatized in our culture, and I, like Gretchen, am often hesitant to tell others about it for fear of how they will treat me. I, too, have been told to snap out of it, to just choose to be happy, that if I take a specific pill I’ll never feel sad again. You’re the Worst never exploits Gretchen’s depression. Instead, it offers a raw and honest reflection of the broad range of emotions that she contends with, offset by plenty of hilarious moments. Life itself is complicated, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be funny.
Through the eyes of two funny cynics who seem doomed to be alone, You’re the Worst embraces the complexity of modern relationships and the many emotional layers they surface. It’s an accurate and empathetic portrait of what living with clinical depression is like, one that reminds us that you have to make a promise to love not only your partner and friends, but also yourself, each and every day.
Your significant other, as Gretchen and Jimmy are at times a strangely relatable couple. The series also celebrates the importance of friendship, so you could gather your besties for a watch party.